Union Sports minister Ajay Maken has urged Urban Development minister Kamal Nath to make it mandatory for schools, which were allotted land by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to allow children from the neighbourhood to use their playgrounds after school hours.
There are 1,200 private schools in Delhi that were given land at low rates by the DDA.
"While the land for school building is allotted on a perpetual lease at relatively higher payable costs, the land for playfields is alloted on a temporary basis on payment of nominal ground rent," Maken said in a letter to the urban development minister.
The senior Congress leader from Delhi said in many cases the land for playground was allotted for as low a rate as Rs. 1 per square metre. He sought clear directions in the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 for such schools to allow their playground to be used by children living within 3 km of their periphery.
He pointed out that "the DDA has, through its allotment deeds, made it compulsory for some schools to allow the playfields to be used by local children during non-school hours".
Maken said separate entry gates could be built for playing areas so that users do not to enter the school premises. Calling for throwing open more space for kids to play in the Capital, Maken said while many schools run sports academies they don't allow local children to play on their ground.
"The land given to schools on licence fees are not only meant only for the school and it would be unfair if it is not used by children from the neighbourhood," he said.
Maken has also requested Nath to reserve about 20 to 30% areas in public parks as open fields where children can play.
"Grounds are something that can be used by the children and there is no harm in letting children use them after school hours. But a lot of things need to be worked out -- if such activity is not monitored then the school will be held responsible for any mishap that occurs during the game. The government should instead, focus on utilising the unused land and convert them into playfields," said Ameeta Wattal, vice-chairperson, National Progressive Schools Conference (NPSC).